Local legislators are voting for weaker student tests


If you think Fayette County students should graduate with the ability to read, write, and do math, then you will want to know that Representatives Matt Ramsey (R–Peachtree City) and John Yates (R–Griffin) both voted to completely eliminate the High School Graduation Test when they voted for House Bill 91.

In HB 91, there are four possible ways schools are held accountable. Schools are able to pick one of the following: SAT or ACT performance, End of Course or End of Grade Assessments, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate participation and performance, or high school graduation rates.

If you have been fighting against the Common Core corporate/federal takeover of local schools, this is all part of that larger battle. The High School Graduation Test is the only non-Common Core affiliated measure that we have left.

If we eliminate that test, there will be no way of knowing if our students will graduate with basic reading, writing, science, social studies and math abilities.

How do these accountability measures relate to Common Core implementation?

The Advanced Placement program is owned and controlled by the College Board, a private company. They have re-written the U.S. History course to reflect anti-American propaganda. Nothing we do or say here in Georgia is going to change that.

What about the International Baccalaureate Program (IB)? They are part of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. Fees for IB are paid to UNESCO. These courses have the same anti-American style curriculum found in the re-written AP framework. Nothing that we do or say here in Georgia will change that. Why didn’t we eliminate number 4 as a measure of accountability?

The End of Grade and End of Course assessments are owned and controlled by the organizations that copyrighted Common Core. With this new system, we cannot be assured that students will graduate with basic skills in reading, writing, or math because there will be different pathways for college or career and different assessments at the end of each course. Georgia citizens and local school representatives will have no say in what is assessed.

What about the SAT or the ACT? David Coleman, the man who brought us Common Core, is now leading the College Board, the owners of the AP program and the SAT testing program. He has announced that he will be aligning the SAT with the Common Core.

What about high school graduation rates? When the high school graduation test is eliminated, high school graduation rates will increase. Why? The test to ensure that high school graduates can read and write will be eliminated. It will be easier to track lower level learners into workforce tracks.

When you look at what the Georgia Senate passed in SB 2, there won’t even be a need for academics beyond 10th grade for certain students. When you put HB 91 and SB 2 together, you have the bigger picture.

The separate writing assessments are also eliminated. There will not be “writing assessments.” Writing will be assessed, but in the new Georgia Milestones test, it will be part of other assessments. A separate score for writing will not be available because it will be considered part of all other subjects including English/Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

In HB 91, there is also a change to nationally norm-referenced instruments. The Georgia Milestones test that was purchased from McGraw-Hill, the private company that owns the copyright on the Common Core standards, has a nationally norm referenced component. This component would also satisfy the state requirement for homeschool students to take a nationally norm referenced test. The GMAS is a Common Core aligned test.

According to HB 91, special education students will not be able to have an alternate assessment. They will have to take the grade-level-based GMAS test. The education team will not be able to choose appropriate assessments. They may select accommodations. Many students with disabilities will have the test read to them by the computer as an accommodation. If this is the case, the teachers will not have to teach these students how to read.

The bill also removes the provision for waivers that would allow local boards of education to administer higher level tests.

The removal of the high school graduation test is retroactive. This will permit former students to graduate and attend college without the need for a GED or a passing score on the Georgia High School Graduation test.

HB 91 mirrors what is happening at the federal level with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Assessments and placements are made in grades 3, 5, and 8. These will determine if a student is tracked into an academic track or a workforce track. They are not offered at the high school level, because once a student reaches high school, the decisions will already be made.

HB 91 promotes and strengthens Common Core in Georgia. It removes the only non-Common Core test we have left, the High School Graduation Test. It supports private organizations such as the anti-American AP and IB programs. It requires Common Core based End of Course tests. It allows students to graduate from high school and be eligible for college without passing the High School Graduation Test or the GED. If HB 91 passes in the Georgia Senate, ALL the accountability measures will be based on Common Core.

When we look at the federal reauthorization of ESEA, we can see that Georgia’s own Johnny Isakson was one of the sponsors of the first version, S. 1101 put out in 2013. Notice the use of the word OR in college OR career.

The 2015 version ties Common Core implementation to Title 1 funding, so it must be stopped. We will update you with more information on additional bills.

For now, contact your state senators and representatives. Ask that they vote against HB 91 when it is brought up in the state Senate and against SB 2 when it comes up in the state House. Contact your U.S. representatives and senators, and ask them to vote against the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Mary Kay Bacallao
Fayetteville, Ga.

[Mary Kay Bacallao was a member of the Fayette County Board of Education and was a Republican candidate for state school superintendent.]